Baldelli signs deal with Rays
Rocco Baldelli is getting back on the playing field.
The outfielder and the Tampa Bay Rays agreed to a minor league contract Monday, and he was assigned him to Class A Charlotte of the Florida State League.
The 28-year old rejoined the Rays as a special instructor during spring training. He had been taking batting practice and participating in drills before most Tampa Bay home games.
Baldelli has been rehabbing an injured shoulder this year and has not appeared in a game. He missed the 2005 season and most of 2007 and 2008 due to injuries and a medical condition that sapped his energy.
''What's happened with him physically doesn't allow you to use him every day,'' Rays manager Joe Maddon said. ''But picking the right spots with this guy could be intriguing. He's got enormous power as a hitter. He doesn't run as well as he used to, but defensively you could use him in the outfield.''
Baldelli made his big league debut with Tampa Bay in 2003 and was part of the Rays' AL championship team in 2008. He signed with Boston for 2009, hitting .253 with seven homers and 23 RBIs in 62 games.
''We're excited for Rocco to continue his playing career,'' Rays vice president for baseball operations Andrew Friedman said. ''He still possesses the natural physical ability to help us down the stretch but it will take some time to get him back into optimal playing shape for us to make the most informed decision possible.''
Maddon figures Baldelli could be ready in late August.
''I think that's reasonable. That would be about 5 1/2 to six weeks,'' the manager said. ''By then, you would have a good indication of his abilities. And Rocco will be honest with us in regards to what he can do. If he thought he could be of use to us, he would tell us that.''